Thursday 24 January 2019

The conversation moves on? Childhood Challenging Violent and Aggressive Behaviour

It is with interest I read through the 'Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse: Consultation Response and Draft Bill' that was released on Monday, I lie, if felt like work. I'm not a lawyer and laws are so not page turners.

The draft is released almost a year since the MP Toby Perkins had raised a debate on Child on Parent Violence that I wrote up here . This draft bill was referenced then and if you skip to page 44 there is mention of adolescent to parent violence (you can download the Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse: Consultation Response and Draft Bill here).

What does it mean for us? Well, in all that Dr Wendy Thorley and I have looked at on the issue one of the resounding myths that we've repeatedly had to shatter is that only adolescents manifest behaviour so violent and aggressive that it precipitates external action or support.

It's just plain wrong.

The problem is across childhood but more prominent in middle childhood, primary school aged children. This bill is explicit in highlighting adolescents,  my concern is that those responding are being given no tools or guidance on how to help when the child is 7, 8 or 9 and below the age of criminal responsibility which is 10. Why does this matter? because families are desperate and calling the police and asking for help, they're looking to services that are mistaking violent and aggressive behaviour as an indicator of permissive or authoritarian parenting, they are 'believing' children's narratives because they've been given no other narrative.

The published document talks about the approach that services take but if they are stuck in the adolescent narrative, which is a valid one, they will not be equipped or prepared to support the majority of families that experience this phenomenon. It feels like a step forward in the wrong direction. Hmmmm.

That all said, at least it's in the documents, at least people are looking to consider best practice and the  knowledge and understanding will move on.

My limited knowledge of legislative process and the nuances of what happens next and implications must temper what I've said . To that end my thoughts are more of what is known and how we (parents/carers, professionals and services) respond to the issue and how that response should help.

(You can see the facts and figures in the CCVAB report that Dr Wendy and I published here)

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